A facet joint injection can be helpful in relieving pain in a facet joint, and it can also help your doctor to isolate the exact section of the spine that is suffering from the condition. Additionally, if a facet joint injection is successful in relieving your back and neck pain for a few months, this will make it much easier for you to stick to a regimen of conservative, non-invasive physiotherapy.
First, let’s look at what a facet joint injection involves. Once your doctor has isolated the region of the spine that is affected by facet joint degeneration, he or she will administer a local anesthetic to help offset some of the injection pain. Sometimes a sedative IV is administered so that you can fully relax—tenseness can cause an injection to be more painful.
The next step is inserting a needle into the affected facet joint. The needle does need to go through several layers of tissue to reach the joint space, so you may feel some discomfort. Imaging equipment (such as an X-ray) will be standing by as your doctor injects a bit of contrasting dye to verify that the injection is going to the proper place. Next, your doctor will inject a combination of a numbing medication and cortisone into the facet joint. If the numbing medication provides immediate pain relief, then the doctor knows that he or she has found the source of your pain. The entire procedure only takes a few minutes.
You should be able to return to normal activities immediately after your facet joint injection and, although you may feel soreness in your back as the numbing medication wears off, the cortisone should fully mobilize within a few days. It is a long-lasting hormone that releases gradually, which means the pain relief should last for several months.
A facet joint injection to treat facet joint osteoarthritis can be extremely helpful as a form of conservative treatment. Most doctors will advise that other forms of pain relief therapy accompany the injection, such as prescription or over-the-counter pain medication, physical therapy, and rest.
Some patients may find that their facet joint pain has gotten so severe that a facet joint injection is ineffective. If this is the case, Laser Spine Institute (LSI) can offer you more information on our minimally-invasive, endoscopic procedures to treat facet joint conditions. We use laser-assisted technology to ensure that our patients have the fastest recovery time possible. Contact us today for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.